Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

D.C. Transit Officer Arrested for Supporting ISIS; GOP Group Backs Libertarian Candidate; 33 U.S. Servicemembers, Families Contract Zika. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 3, 2016 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:34:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some breaking news for you. A Washington, D.C. Transit Police officer has been arrested and charged with providing material supporter to ISIS. Officials say it had been investigating this guy for more than a year.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez, is following this for us.

Evan, what are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This investigation was going on for about six years. First U.S. police officer been arrested and charged with providing material support for ISIS. Now, we've had over 100 of these arrests as you guys know. You know, we've had everything from former members of the military, people who worked in prisons, but we've never had an active police officer. This guy, Nicholas Young, was frosh working for the Metro Transit Police Department here in Washington. We're told they were keeping a very close watch on him. They've had undercover police officers working alongside him. They've had undercover informants also talking to him. The FBI did more than 20 meetings with him in 2014 as they were trying to get this case to cross the finish line.

[11:35:22] But it appears all this time all he was doing was talking until, recently, he bought a number of gift cards that he sent overseas, he thought he was sending overseas in order to provide money for ISIS. About $245 worth of gift cards and that was the crime he finally committed that the FBI says they've been able to charge him with. We expect him to appear in court later today.

Now, what's interesting about his background, he's been a police officer since 2003. And it appears the FBI was aware that he was friends with, had associates with a couple of other people who have been arrested for terrorism. One of them is Zachary Chesser (ph). You guys may remember him as the guy who was making threats to the creators of "South Park," the TV show. And Amin al Kalisi (ph), the guy who was arrested just a few blocks away from the U.S. capitol. He thought he was about to blow himself up. Turns out, that was an FBI operation, sting operation. So this is a man the FBI has been watching a long time. It wasn't until he bought these gift cards they decided they had enough to arrest him -- guys?

BOLDUAN: Evan, thank you so much.

Sounds like a lot more to come out of this as well. Evan, thank you.

Let's continue this discussion with our guest, CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, also the author of "Security Mom."

Juliette, another arrest, but this is the first active U.S. police officer to be connected with this. That's startling.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: He's armed, he's trained and he has access to critical infrastructure, the D.C. transit system.

The good news on this is he's been clearly under massive surveillance for several years. Not just undercover police officers watching his every move, but communications he was having with people he though were ISIS were actually, as is common in these cases, former FBI agents.

To let viewers know, material support is a federal crime. If you send a $20 check to ISIS, you will -- you will go to jail. So even a minimal amount of money like $200 of gift cards, that is material support of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. It doesn't matter who it is. It could be ISIS, Hamas or whoever else. That's what's going on in terms of the prosecution.

BERMAN: Six years, they let it go on, because they wanted to see if anyone else was involved?

KAYYEM: Exactly. And that's the challenge with these cases. So let's just say Nicholas Young is saying, I like ISIS, right, and I'm following them online. Hard to bring a federal case against him. You have to bring in informants, surveillance, others who can get him to do something wrong. But, you know, the challenge of getting these kinds of cases so that -- you want them to survive in court. Remember, it's not just bringing the charge. You want the person in jail. It's what is the material support, what is the action. What we've seen across the board is, unfortunately, the action tends to be the violence, the going into the Orlando bar --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Also a perfect example of six years and all the manpower behind it. The challenge that --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Yeah, for one guy.

KAYYEM: The guy who does not even --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: This shows what law enforcement is up against.

KAYYEM: He was under surveillance before ISIS existed, right, so we don't even know.

BOLDUAN: Yeah.

BERMAN: Juliette, thanks for coming on.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Juliette.

Coming up, fed up with the options at hand, more voters are turning their support to, or at least looking for another option. Could this be the option, the Libertarian ticket? Why one GOP group is now backing candidate, Gary Johnson. And what that means for the race ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:01] BERMAN: All right, cancel your evening plans. Libertarian Gary Johnson and his running mate will be part of the CNN town hall tonight. This, as a new poll shows 67 percent of Independents are dissatisfied with their choices for president. So what will move the needle?

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

Let's talk about this with our panel. Liz Mair is co-founder of a new group of Republicans supporting Johnson. The group is called Republicans for Johnson/Weld 2016. Also with us, CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, senior contributor for "The Daily Caller"; and CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, also an anchor at Time/Warner Cable News; and Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser and pollster for the Donald Trump campaign. She is back with us as well.

Guys, thank you so much.

So, Liz, tell me, you've worked and supported a lot of Republicans, why Gary Johnson?

LIZ MAIR, CO FOUNDER, REPUBLICANS FOR JOHNSON/WELD 2016: I think like a lot of voters this cycle, I'm extremely dissatisfied with the choices that are being offered by the major parties. At the end of the day, I'm somebody who is in support of government, fiscal conservativism, somebody who's socially moderate. When I look at Hillary Clinton and I look at Donald Trump, I see people for a lot of spending, a lot of taxing, interventionist government, people who I think have pretty authoritarian instincts. That's not something I'm comfortable with.

And I think if you look at surveys of the American population, you see a large number of voters who consider themselves to be fiscally conservative and socially more moderate. And I think a lot of those people are feeling left behind by the two major parties. I think a lot of people within the two major parties, frankly, are feeling very left behind. I think if you asked Reince Priebus or asked John McCain, I think privately they would probably concede that, too.

Candidly, what this group aims to do is make sure people understand that voting for Gary Johnson is a viable option. This is somebody who -- he's not a hard Libertarian, but he is a small-"L" Libertarian, and is somebody who presents the option of voting for a presidential candidate who is for more limited government. He is more socially moderate. At the end of the day, he also doesn't have the ethical problems that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump do. And he has a heck of a lot of government experience and experience as a successful businessman.

[11:45:21] BERMAN: All right, Matt Lewis, you just heard all that. You're a Republican, not particularly happy with your choices this time. Why, then, am I reading you don't think Gary Johnson or William Weld are the answer?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, well, first of all, what a missed opportunity. I agree with Liz, there are a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives, who would be more than happy to go for a third party right now. If Rand Paul were the Libertarian nominee, I could support him wholeheartedly.

But there's a lot of problems with Gary Johnson. First of all, if you're a conservative, he's not pro-life, so if you care about the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you've got a problem. It's not just social conservatives who should be concerned about him. He's not even a good Libertarian. Take the issue of religious liberty. It's in the First Amendment. Gary Johnson thinks Little Sisters of the Poor should have to pay for contraception. He thinks a Christian baker should be compelled by the force of government to bake a cake that violates their rights of conscience. So I think there's a huge opening for somebody, a third party candidate, who would be acceptable to Republicans. Amazingly, Gary Johnson is not that candidate.

MAIR: I think, just to come back on that --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hold on one second, Liz, hold on one second.

Kellyanne, as an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, if there's this huge pool of people out there with three months out or less than from the election, how does Donald Trump, how does your campaign reach out, win over, bring in more of these voters?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISOR & POLLSTER, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Shocking we are a limited-government candidate. Matt referred to Gary Johnson as not a particularly good Libertarian. He certainly is a new Libertarian. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld have one thing in common, they were Republican governors, and not fiscally restrained ones either. So all I can do is urge --

(CROSSTALK)

MAIR: That's not true.

CONWAY: All I can do it urge voters to take a look at what each of these third party candidacies are offering before they say this a "neither of the above" vote. It is not a "neither of the above vote." It is a vote for the Libertarian ticket. Or in the case of Jill Stein, who, by the way, made the most gains of any third-party candidate after the conventions, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. Instead of just saying, it's not for Hillary, it's not for Donald Trump, I think Liz makes the case very well for her ticket, probably better than most voters who are looking at that.

And the thing is, Rand Paul, to mention Senator Paul again, he's a -- you know, he's a fine United States Senator. His candidacy didn't go anywhere. He really ran as a Libertarian alternative. It turned out there weren't enough consumers buying that product. We're going to reach out to Independents who otherwise would Libertarian -- the part they don't like is the rigged corrupt system in Washington, D.C. You have to get an outsider, not two former Republican governors.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, it's interesting. Kellyanne, at the beginning of that, actually bashed the fiscal record of -- I say that in a nice way. You criticize the record of Gary Johnson and William Weld during their candidacies, which indicate maybe the Trump campaign wants to keep Gary Johnson down a little bit.

Who does he hurt more, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, because I'm not sure it's totally clear.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's clear at all. The numbers, you know, depending on which poll you're looking at, they are taking substantially from the Democratic ticket as well. Although they usually get measured along with Stein. So it starts to get a little bit cloudy. Absolutely right. Bill Weld, as Massachusetts governor, or frankly as U.S. attorney before he became governor, this is not a small government guy. I interviewed him just recently and asked him about, you know, his actions during the drug war and what he's prepared to do with ISIS, sounds very similar to Trump. It's really in the "let's bomb the crap out of them" kind of vein, so this is not something Libertarians will naturally flock to. I think they're going to have a hard time.

I don't know if we're making a clear distinction. I've got to tell you, John, between Independents who are actual right swing voters, sometimes Democratic, sometimes Republican, and true Independents, who don't like the parties and don't like the party structures. That is a much smaller group. I think that's really who's going to be gravitating to this ticket.

BOLDUAN: Liz, your thoughts?

MAIR: Just to touch on a couple of things. First to Kellyanne's point regarding fiscal record. What she said is absolutely false. If you go and look at the fiscally conservative Cato Institute's report card on America's governors, the four times that they rated Gary Johnson, he got a "B" rating, which, if you look at the way they rate governors, really equates to an "A" or "A"-plus rating.

(CROSSTALK)

MAIR: If you look at Bill Weld, Bill Weld was in the top four of all governors nationwide the three times they rated him. Yeah, and both of them were governing in blue states with Democratic majorities they were dealing with. So think in actual fact that does speak to the fact that they're very fiscally conservative.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:50:05] BOLDUAN: But can I just jump in quickly? I want to get one more question in to Errol before we have to run to break.

MAIR: Sure.

BERMAN: I want to talk about the DNC because there was a purge overnight in the DNC. Three top officials tossed to the street for these leaked e-mails that came out. You know, we talk about a Republican Party in turmoil, but is there a Democratic Party, or at least Democratic National Committee that's in turmoil right now?

LOUIS: Well, the thing about a purge is it prevents turmoil. It prevents the slow drip, drip, drip. My sense is that it's probably based on e-mails we haven't seen, that heads are rolling. The e-mails we've seen so far, Louis Miranda (ph), for example, perfectly good guy, communications director. The one e-mail we saw, he said, "Well, we'd love to go after Bernie Sanders but the boss said not to, so we have to hold back." That's not enough to get your head chopped off.

CONWAY: There's a fundamental difference between the DNC in the RNC. They still have their chairman, Reince Priebus, who talks to the nominee, Donald Trump. And Debbie Wassermann Schultz was relieved of her duties go by President Obama, and by extension, Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: And now they have interim DNC chair, Donna Brazile.

BERMAN: And the Libertarians, they still have their entire party apparatus.

BOLDUAN: Exactly, totally intact.

Which is why, which is why -- segue -- tonight, be sure to watch the CNN Libertarian town hall. Anderson Cooper moderates the event. Gary Johnson, William Weld, 9:00 p.m. eastern, only on CNN.

BOLDUAN: Also, some breaking news to bring you. More than 30 members of the U.S. military have contracted the Zika Virus. We have new details coming in on this just now. We'll get it to you right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: To breaking news. 33 members of the U.S. military have contracted the Zika Virus, including a servicemember who is pregnant. Six other people who have military personnel in their families have also been infected.

BERMAN: CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has the details.

Barbara, where did they get? What's the prognosis? What's going on? [11:54:49] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, let's

break this down some of this. The Pentagon telling us this morning, indeed, 33 members of the U.S. military, plus six people with family members in the military have, had the Zika Virus. This is something the Pentagon's been tracking since the beginning of the year. What they cannot tell us this morning is how many people still may be ill, what kind of treatment they got. But it is now a total of 33, plus six. And that is part of the overall number of more than a thousand cases now being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control.

What the military is telling us is all of these people, these military members, contracted Zika while they were overseas in countries where Zika has been reported. So this is a very interesting demographic because the military population, of course, is so mobile, it moves around. Military people can't pick and choose where they go. So they have contracted this overseas in countries where Zika already exists. Now, pregnant female military members, if they're in a country with Zika, they can request to be moved. But, indeed, one pregnant female military member did come down with Zika. We don't know the disposition of these cases.

But this is something the Pentagon is tracking very closely and telling its military personnel the same thing that we are all being told, use insect repellent, cover up with clothing, be careful when you go outside.

So it's a story we'll continue to track and see how the military is now being affected by Zika -- John, Kate?

BERMAN: They have a lot of young people in a lot of places.

Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: You can't pull them back.

BERMAN: No.

Political news. Donald Trump says he has no regrets, no regrets after the back-and-forth feud with the family of a fallen U.S. soldier. Trump, in his own words, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)